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High food prices unacceptable, says FM

Last updated on: March 11, 2011 13:54 IST

High food prices unacceptable, says FM

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Terming the current level of food inflation of 9.5 per cent as 'unacceptable', Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday the government has taken several steps to bring it down further especially through enhancing supply of essential commodities.

"At the beginning of last year, food inflation was 20.2 per cent, and now it is 9.5 per cent. However, this figure is equally unacceptable," Mukherjee said while replying to the discussion on the General Budget 2011-12 in Lok Sabha.

Mukherjee said the high inflationary pressure, specially in food and some non-food articles, existed in other emerging economies also.

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Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee gives final touches to the Budget.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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"I am not making any plea.

"This is not an excuse that because there is inflation in other areas there should be inflation in India also.

"It is not. But the fact of the matter is inflationary pressure is visible all over the world. It is not merely in our country," he said.

Linking food inflation to global developments, the minister pointed out that the surplus liquidity is being converted into commodity.

"There are apprehensions. It appears to be the ground reality that surplus liquidity has been converted into commodity such as oil and foodgrain", he said.

Mukherjee said such a trend was also noticed in other essential commodities.

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High food prices unacceptable, says FM

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"These are the economic factors. We may try to wish them away but we cannot because the global linkage is here...", he said.

 Food inflation has been in the double-digits for most of this fiscal.

According to latest figures, it has, however, dipped to 9.52 per cent for the week ended February 26.

The overall inflation continues to be above 8 per cent mark since February 2010.

The government is expecting that it would fall to 7 per cent by March end.

But, political unrest in West Asia and North Africa resulting in high crude oil prices, have raised doubts on the projections, experts said.

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Image: People walk pass the Bombay Stock Exchange building displaying Sensex.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
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The government has taken various steps in the Budget like special initiative for agriculture, supply chain management, promotion of coal chains among others, Mukherjee said.

"These are intended to address issues of demand and supply constraints", he said.

He also expressed concern over the state of distribution network in the country including the public distribution system) for below poverty line families saying it was not up to the mark.

He said the government has received a number of suggestions from the expert group headed by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on revamping the PDS and added "there are some suggestions which could be implemented."



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